LAST Thursday, October 20, the ancient kingdom of Benin and, indeed, the good people of Edo State made history. A new dawn beckons as the 39th Oba of Benin was crowned. Twenty-one days from now, November 12th precisely, a new governor, elected after the fierce gubernatorial election of September 28th, will be inaugurated to steer the ship of the state for the next four years.
By all standards, the two events, with their promises of new beginning, are as historic as they are auspicious. While both Oba Eheneden Erediauwa and Godwin Obaseki come to office in the atmosphere of great expectations, the good news, of course is that both, being young in age and at heart, possess not just the vitality, but also come fully prepared for the burden of service to the good people of Edo State. It is truly a new dawn for the people of the state.
Talk of answers to prayers, the emergence of Godwin Obaseki as governor-elect, could only have come as personal testimony to the countless prayers offered by the new monarch to his ancestors – prayers for a peaceful poll and the emergence of a credible individual to pilot the affairs of the state for the next four years.
In the heat of the tension that enveloped the governorship election, we recall the Oba saying: “We all went down to our knees…We prayed harder and honestly, our ancestors and God Almighty answered all we prayed for, the gift of a peaceful election and a governor that will keep food on the table for our people and respect the traditional institution.”
Today, it is unlikely that anyone still doubts that the prayers have been answered. Hence the Oba expresses his gratitude in his statement: “I am thankful to God and our ancestors for hearing the fervent prayers we prayed before the election and for bringing out somebody who will uplift our people and respect the tradition.”
Never one to miss the import of the mandate and the burden it carries, the Oba would not fail to admonish the governor-elect: “I will tell the governor-elect, keep to your promises, keep your words, put food on the table of our people, respect the traditional institution and ensure you build on what Oshiomhole has done.”
In this, the Oba of Benin is not alone; it was the same refrain from other traditional rulers from Edo Central and Edo North who, aside from offering their unanimous support for Godwin Obaseki, have also expressed their willingness to partner with the government to safeguard investment that will improve on the economy and well-being of their subjects.
Not that Obaseki’s loyalty to the royal family and the Benin tradition has ever been in doubt. For guidance and advice, Obaseki has stated that he would be counting on the Oba to succeed.
Just as the governor-elect has spoken of his vision for Edo State where the famous cultures and traditions will be reinvigorated as part of the economic growth strategy harnessed to the greater benefit of our people, Obaseki also states: “I see an Edo State where our people will live in peace, equanimity and where social justice, equity and fairness shall prevail at all times.”
Now, these two great men not only have reasons to celebrate each other, but together with the entire people of Edo State, they have enough reasons to be proud of the new dawn. For Obaseki in particular, it must come as something of pridem not only to witness the milestone in the great Benin kingdom, but also to be a major participant. Moreover, the import of the partnership between the palace and the in-coming government can only bring greater strides in a state ordinarily hungry for development.
For the good people of Edo State, it is time to tap into Obaseki’s formidable personal and leadership skills garnered in the course of a sterling career in private and public life – a factor which has now propelled him to become the first banker to be governor in the state. Surely, the people cannot wait to see him deploy these managerial skills to build a better, prosperous and economically sustainable Edo State based on cultural cohesion and ethical values.
Once again, Edo people have shown that we can never be more hopeful about our future; indeed, we’ve never been more hopeful about the state and the progressive government and virile traditional institution as we are about to experience. And this hope, Edo people will sustain under our new Oba and our new governor.
- Mayaki is a public affairs analyst.